AG’s ‘confidence vote not necessary’ view preposterous, says group

SEVERAL civil society groups have slammed attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun’s remarks that there is no need for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to table a confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat.

Earlier today (Sept 6), they said that the AG’s conclusions are preposterous as it goes against the spirit and letter of Malaysia’s constitutional democracy and embarrasses the office of the attorney-general.

“Is it Idrus’ position that Malaysia is governed by monarchy with absolute power?” they questioned.

“As every Malaysian knows, Malaysia practises a system of parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy under which no institution has absolute power, be it the constitutional monarch, Legislative, Judiciary or the Executive branches.

“All of these institutions exercise their powers based on the limits imposed under the constitution, the principles of constitutional democracy and the rule of law, and His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has himself stressed this point to the Government on a number of occasions in the past few months.”

The AG had, in a statement on Sept 4, also said that if Ismail Sabri’s legitimacy still needed to be tested by any party apart from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, it would mean the absolute power of the King could be overridden, and this is not in line with the Federal Constitution.

The groups also stressed that it was clear from Istana Negara’s statement dated Aug 18, 2021 that His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was deeply cognisant of the constitutional role of Parliament.

His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had, in the statement, explicitly advised that the new Prime Minister “must as soon as possible bring a motion of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat to confirm/verify that he has the confidence of a majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat”.

Meanwhile, the groups also questioned Idrus’ attempt to frame Ismail Sabri’s appointment as Prime Minister as an exercise of the Agong’s ‘absolute power’ that cannot be subject to a vote of confidence.

“Is Idrus in fact taking the position that the Agong’s advice in the Aug 18 statement was unconstitutional and should not be followed, and is he attempting to set the stage to suppress legitimate expression of opinion and action that may be taken on the matter?

“The AG’s indefensible position on Malaysia’s governmental system – that the monarchy is absolute instead of constitutional – calls into question his suitability and tenability for the office.

“Such high-level fundamental confusion will inevitably pose unnecessary obstacles and distractions to the government’s legislative and governance agenda,” they added.

The statement is signed by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0), Bait Al-Amanah, Persatuan Pengundi Muda (UNDI18), ENGAGE, Institute of Political Reform and Democracy Malaysia (REFORM) and The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS). – Sept 6, 2021

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